An upmarket Japanese dining experience that’s a testament to Saudi Arabia’s penchant for late-night revelry
Saudi Arabia is fast becoming a hub for culinary enthusiasts, and Khobar in the Eastern Province is no exception. On a recent dining adventure, we found ourselves at Nozomi Khobar, an upmarket Japanese restaurant nestled on the second floor of Al Matal, an area brimming with exciting dining options.
Upon our arrival at Nozomi, we were graciously welcomed by the ushers, who guided us into a bustling dining space. It was a weeknight, yet the place was abuzz with locals and expats alike, a testament to Saudi Arabia’s penchant for late-night revelry.
Nozomi was dimly lit — adding a touch of mystery to the culinary journey about to unfold. A semi-open kitchen showcasing a sushi station bustled with chefs intricately preparing the best cuts. The exquisite woodwork across the restaurant accentuated by the lighting added a touch of sophistication without feeling flamboyant. Hints of gold tastefully adorned the surroundings, while tiled floors and bamboo-inspired ceilings reminded us of the inside of a bamboo steamer. An outdoor seating area provided a scenic view of the corniche. Our cosy booth, adorned in navy blue, offered a comfortable perch.
The evening officially began as we journeyed through Nozomi’s culinary offerings, beggining with the Nozomi Mojito (SAR 60), a refreshing concoction balancing sweet and sour notes, touted as a digestive aid.
Our appetisers followed suit, with the Wagyu Open Gyoza (SAR 120) stealing the show. These delightful dumplings boasted a crisp texture and a delightful truffle essence. They vanished from our plates in no time, a testament to their deliciousness. Next, was the Shrimp Popcorn (SAR 98) served in a sea urchin-like dish. While they were tasty with a zesty lemony flavour, a touch more spice could have elevated this dish.
No Japanese dining experience is complete without sushi, so we ventured into the world of rolls. The classic California Roll (SAR 110) impressed with its balance of crab, vegetables and a slight bite. Elsewhere, the Chan San Maki (SAR 98) featured prawn tempura and unagi sauce — an exquisite choice. However, if we had to pick a favourite, the classic California Roll would be our preference. It’s rare for us to clean our plates of every last crumb during food reviews, but this dish ensured nothing was left. We even contemplated ordering another round but decided to explore more of the menu.
Our main courses included Beef Tenderloin (SAR 230) and the Miso Rib Eye (SAR 230). The tenderloin, adorned with shallot crisps and cooked medium-rare, melted like butter in our mouths. It’s easy to see why it’s Nozomi’s best-seller. The Miso Rib Eye, while excellent, appeals more to those who enjoy the richness of beef with an extra layer of fat. Nonetheless, it was tender and succulent. Both mains were served with Mushroom Takikomi Gohan, a mushroom dashi rice dish with truffle mushroom sauce, served in a petite clay pot.
As we approached dessert, we were presented with an offer we couldn’t refuse: the Toffee Date Cake (SAR 55). This dessert is the latest addition to the menu. It offers a fusion of Saudi and Japanese influences that strikes a perfect balance of sweetness, complemented by a luscious toffee sauce. Paired with walnut and cinnamon ice cream, it was an extraordinary ending to our culinary journey.
Nozomi Khobar caters to an audience seeking diverse and memorable culinary experiences and our experience was truly exceptional. The ambience was inviting, the service attentive, and the food exquisite. If the restaurant was packed on a weeknight, one can only imagine the lively atmosphere on a weekend.
GO: Visit https://nozomiksa.co for more information.